This is a list of Triumph Debate’s top fundraising tips & ideas for Speech and Debate teams. We are constantly adding to this list as our team comes up with new ideas. If you have any great fundraising suggestions for Speech & Debate Teams, please let us know HERE!
In addition to reading out tips and ideas, we recommend checking out the National Speech & Debate Association’s fundraising program to apply for a program grant, to get access to the NSDA & Edco Fundraising Strategies Guide, as well as other features. Check out their program, HERE!
1.) Host a Team Night / Community Night
A lot of teams already do this, but an effective way to generate community support and awareness for your Speech and Debate team is to host an event where some or all of your team perform their speech and/or hold a demo debate round. It is entertaining and you can generate additional revenue by having a small concessions stand. Many parents and family members love to see their kids/siblings perform.
2.) Hold a Raffle
This is another common fundraising technique, but your team could hold a raffle either at their own Speech and Debate tournament, at another event or just a school raffle. You can give out awesome prizes aimed at any audience, from older folks and parents who may judge the tournament to fellow competitors who really love their G2’s. You can even ask for donations for raffle items from team members, members of the community, or local businesses who may be willing to offer an in-kind donation. You can charge something minimal like $1 per ticket, and raise quite a bit of funds for your team!
3.) Sell Candy Bars (Daffin’s Candies, Especially)
Selling chocolate candy bars, especially Daffin’s who actually have a protocol for helping school activities fundraise, can be a really effective fundraiser. Typically, teams can buy the bars for 50 cents each and resell them for a $1.00. It is super low cost to resell and very low cost to purchase, thus making it a good fundraiser. Having team members take them to school/class/extra curriculums or asking their parents to take them to work with them are all really effective ways to make the fundraiser a success. You can learn more about Daffin’s fundraising program HERE. If you do not live in Ohio or Pennsylvania where you have access to Daffin’s, I’d suggest looking into other local candy stores.
4.) Host A Quarter Auction
This is a really unique but fun idea. A quarter auction is just what the title suggests, an auction where people bid to win items in quarter increments. You can charge a flat fee for the paddle (i.e. ability to auction), sell additional paddles, sell concessions as well as generate revenue from the auction itself. It is a great way to make money for your team, but also get the community involved. It does require a good amount of planning and preparation, so if hosting a quarter auction interests you, you should get started ASAP!
5.) Do A Chipotle Fundraiser
This is definitely a much more common fundraiser, and many Speech and Debate teams have at least heard of it. But, if you haven’t, you should check it out! Chipotle has a fundraising program for school activities and such. All you do is apply to host a fundraiser, receive flyers with the information of when and where, hand them out & spread the word and then you can keep 33% of the proceeds. If you want to learn more or submit an application, you can check out the Chipotle fundraising program HERE!
6.) Host A Movie or Bingo Night
Your team can host a movie or bingo night, where you can encourage your friends from your school and from across your Speech & Debate district to come enjoy a movie and/or bingo night. You can sell tickets and concessions, and even watch Speech & Debate themed movies or do Speech & Debate themed bingo boards. Your team can spread awareness about the event via social media, school newsletters and newspapers, posters around the school, school bulletin boards, and more.
7.) Do A Handle’s Fundraiser
Handle’s is an ice cream parlor with tons of locations across the US. Checking to see if there is one near you can open the doors to a great fundraiser. Handle’s allows programs to do “Pint Card Sales” where they can make up to a 35% profit by reselling Handle’s pint cards. Read more about some of the other fundraising opportunities Handle’s has HERE!
8.) Host A Big Questions Debate Tournament
One of the initiatives put forth by the NSDA in recent years has been to promote their newest debate category, BQD. In an effort to do so, they have used a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to provide a financial incentive to teams who host a Big Questions Debate tournament. Learn more about how much your team could earn, your team’s eligibility, and how to host a BQD tournament HERE!
9.) Hold A Bake Sale
Bake sales are a classic way for teams to generate revenue. To hold a bake sale, typically the team will need to get permission from the school administration to host a table at school during lunchtime – your coach or team captain can do this. Once the team has permission, ask each member to contribute 1-3 baked goods like cake pops, brownies, cookies, etc. Teams can make hundreds of dollars by holding a bake sale, with very little effort and no extra costs on the part of the Speech and Debate Team.
10.) Apply For Grants
Since Speech and Debate Teams are an extracurricular activity for high schools, most teams can actually qualify for a ton of different grants (especially if your team has their own boosters)! We recommend doing some research to see what grant opportunities are out there for your team and whether your team qualifies.
One of the best ways that a team can raise funds to compete is through crowdfunding. There are a plethora of platforms that teams can use, ranging from Facebook Donate to GoFundMe. Crowdfunding is especially helpful for teams trying to raise funds for big and important tournaments, such as the state or national tournament.
12.) Sell Speech & Debate Yard Signs
A strategy to raise funds, as well as raise support for your schools’ Speech and Debate Team program, is to sell Speech & Debate Yard Signs – similar to how many sports programs sell them! This fundraiser is great for parents of current and former team members, but also helpful as many community members may want to show support for your school and team. You can custom order these signs from various websites, and charge 5-10% more to fundraise for your team!
13.) Sell Speech & Debate Team Gear
Like selling yard signs, Speech & Debate team gear is a great strategy to not only raise money but also garner more awareness and support for your schools’ Speech and Debate Team program. Gear can include stickers, water bottles, t-shirts, sweatpants, and more. You can custom order this gear from various websites, and charge 5-10% more to fundraise for your team!
14.) Get Team Sponsors & Donors
A fantastic strategy for raising money for teams is to acquire sponsors and donors. Many prominent community members and local businesses sponsor and/or donate to various local programs and extracurriculars. In fact, most Speech & Debate tournaments have sponsors that get specifically recognized at their ceremonies. Reaching out to local businesses or members of the community that are really involved can be a great strategy for getting a significant amount of funding for your team. Be sure to think about what the sponsor or donor will get in return. Will they receive thanks at your team’s tournament? Does your team thank sponsors/donors on social media platforms? Will they be recognized at your team banquet? Smoothing these answers over can help you secure sponsors and donors more successfully.
15.) Host A Panera Bread Fundraiser
Similar to other chain-oriented fundraisers (like Chipotle or Handles), Panera Bread has a fundraising program for school activities. To participate, you must apply to host a fundraiser, where you will receive a customized flyer for your team. You’ll need to hand them out, spread the word, and then your team gets to keep 20% of the proceeds. If you want to learn more or submit an application, you can check out the Panera fundraising program HERE!
16.) Reach Out To Local Companies For In-Kind Donations
Many companies are wiling to give in-kind donations to local programs. An in-kind donation is simply when the company donates goods, rather than money. So, for example, Panera Bread offers in-kind donations and may give out food like bagels and other baked goods. Reaching out to companies for in-kind donations is a great strategy for events you’re hosting – like a big team banquet or a tournament.
17.) Host A Pajama Day
A fundraiser that is both fun and raises a lot of money for teams is to host a pajama day! Have a coach or captain receive permission from the school administration to host a pajama day and collect $1 per person who wants to participate. This fundraiser doesn’t even have to be a “pajama day” it can be a ton of different and fun themes.
18.) Have A Photo Booth At Your Teams Tournament
Set up a photo booth at your team’s tournament, and charge anywhere from $2 to $5 for students to take a set of photos. There are a ton of different companies that rent out photo booths for events. This is a unique way to make a little bit of extra money, for little effort in a fun way.
19.) Team Up With Other Organizations
Reach out to other school organizations and extracurriculars to set up a fundraiser together where you split revenue accordingly. This is an especially good strategy if your team or school is small because it increases the number of people involved and reach. Your captain or coach can reach out to the director of other programs, such as robotics, band or choir, various clubs (like environmental clubs or book clubs), and more.
20.) Set Up A Donation Page
A great strategy to consistently raise money is to set up a way for people to donate to your team, consistently. A great way to do that is through your Speech & Debate team’s website or social media. You can share it with potential sponsors, parents, and community members. A great strategy is to use the donation page to crowdfund for large tournaments or to send to parents if they want to pay extra in addition to general competition fees.